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Egoism, the most radical form of individualist anarchism, is closely associated with the German philosopher and social critic Max Stirner (1806-56). His key ideas are set out in his major work The Ego and His Own (1845). For Stirner, humans are driven by egoism in the sense that they are self-interested, lack morality and want total personal autonomy. Individuals, he argues, should act in any way they see fit without any restrictions being imposed on them. As he puts it ‘I am everything to myself and I do everything on my own account’. Egoism therefore asserts that complete personal freedom requires the rejection of all forms of constraint including the state, social conventions, laws, moral codes and religion. All human actions, including those rationalised as being for the benefit of others, are actually undertaken for selfish motives. Indeed, egoism accepts altruistic acts precisely because such behaviour gratifies an individual’s self-image.

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